Ecological Land Co-operative
Even though the numbers of young people studying agriculture is growing, the average age of a British farmer is 59 and rising. Some of the factors causing this are high land costs, high costs of rural housing, and land ownership - with farms getting larger in scale and fewer in number.
The Ecological Land Cooperative develops affordable, low impact, smallholdings for ecological agriculture. Their model aims to demonstrate how supporting new entrants into ecological agriculture helps revitalise rural communities, creating a living, working countryside where land is valued as a way to enhance the good of communities and the natural world. ELC wants to show that sustainable rural livelihoods, such as small-scale ecological food production, can protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and have an important role to play in ensuring food and energy security.
The cooperative purchases agricultural land with a view to subdividing it into a number of ecologically managed residential smallholdings. Drawing on the advice of organic horticulturalists and farmers, ecologists, soil experts, transport advisors, planners, prospective customers, the local community, and those with local knowledge, ELC then establishes a new smallholding cluster with a binding ecological management plan.
Once planning permission is granted, ELC sells (150 year lease) or rents the smallholdings to new entrants to ecological agriculture at an affordable rate and monitors the holdings - performance against the detailed whole-site ecological management plan.
ELC has developed five sites across Southern England and Wales to date, and is seeking new land to purchase, or receive as a donation.
Treebeard provide core, multi-year funding to ELC.